Navy leaders are reviewing whether red patches featuring an image of President Donald Trump and a riff on his "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan are in violation of Defense Department policy.
Photos taken of sailors wearing patches that say "Make Aircrew Great Again" on their flight suit sleeves were circulating on social media after the commander in chief made a stop aboard the amphibious assault ship Wasp on Monday. The photos of the patches, which feature a likeness of Trump, were taken by reporters covering the president's speech to sailors and Marines aboard the amphib in Yokosuka, Japan.
It's not the first time the patches have appeared on social media, but now they're under scrutiny.
"Navy leadership is currently reviewing this instance to ensure that the wearing of the patch does not violate DoD policy or regulations," Lt. Samuel Boyle, a Navy spokesman, told Military.com.
Active-duty troops are barred from any political activities that imply or appear to imply sponsorship, approval or endorsement of a political candidate, campaign or cause, according to Defense Department Directive 1344.10.
Some on social media said the patch is a clear violation of that directive. Others argued that humorous deployment patches are common, and that the uniform devices are often cleared by command.
Navy officials did not respond to questions about the sailors' current assignment or how many wore the patches to Trump's speech. Photos posted by a reporter from The Wall Street Journal show at least five sailors sporting the patch.
This was not the first time members of the Wasp have been photographed wearing the "Make Aircrew Great Again" patches. In September 2017, a photo showing a sailor from the Wasp helping evacuate families during Hurricane Maria was shared on the official Defense Department Twitter account.
In December, questions were raised when troops in Iraq and Germany asked Trump to sign red "Make America Great Again" baseball caps. Air Force officials said at the time that there is no rule against airmen bringing personal items to be signed by the president.